If you are like most dog owners you have probably spent a lot of time carefully choosing a food for your dog, reading ingredient lists and trying to make sense of labels while also appealing to your pet’s palate and your pocketbook. The last thing you want is for food to become rancid or contaminated due to improper storage. Continue reading to learn about common mistakes dog owners make when storing food.
NOT USING A FOOD STORAGE CONTAINER
Leaving your dog’s food in the bag allows exposure to humidity and heat, which can lead to mold and contamination with storage mites. Storage mites are not toxic if ingested, but dogs can develop allergies to mites and exposure to the mites can cause symptoms of atopy, or skin allergies. Molds can cause gastrointestinal upset, and some rare types of mold secrete toxins that can cause significant liver damage or neurologic signs. The best place to store dry food is in a plastic, glass or metal container with a tight fitting lid. This can also discourage pests like mice and insects who might also like access to the food but can carry disease that could be transmissible to you and your dog. You can keep food in the original bag within your chosen container, or if you need to discard the bag be sure to keep the serial number in case of a recall.
LEAVING FOOD WHERE THE DOG HAS ACCESS
Be sure you keep food in a room or cabinet where your dog cannot access it, or that the container is 100% pet proof. Most dogs don’t understand portion control, and it is common for young dogs in particular to knock bags or bins over and then gorge on food when they are unsupervised. This can lead to a condition called ‘food bloat’ where the stomach becomes so distended with food that the blood supply to the stomach and intestines can become compromised.
FORGETTING TO REFRIGERATE CANNED FOOD
Canned food is generally very shelf stable and can be stored unopened for a long time but you should still pay attention to the ‘use by’ date. Once a can is opened it can degrade quickly or become contaminated with bacteria and should be kept in the refrigerator for no more than 5-7 days. If your dog does not finish a meal in 30 minutes you should either throw away the remaining food or cover and place in the refrigerator. Follow all package recommendations for frozen foods, particularly ‘raw’ foods that can become contaminated more quickly. Do not keep previously frozen ‘raw’ food refrigerated for more than 24 hours unless the package states otherwise.